LINGUIST List 13.1775

Mon Jun 24 2002

Qs: Finnish/ESL/Errors, Uto-Aztecan 'die'/'kill'

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  1. John Hammink, Typical mistakes made by Finns
  2. Ljuba Veselinova, Uto-Aztecan 'die'/'kill' verbs

Message 1: Typical mistakes made by Finns

Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 08:59:47 +0000
From: John Hammink <>
Subject: Typical mistakes made by Finns

I've been asked to design and deliver a short course in "Writing with
Precision" in English for an audience of Finnish native speakers.

Many of them have asked me about what are some of the typical
"mistakes" made by Finnish speakers when writing in English.

Better yet, as many non-native English writers often "borrow"
syntactic devices from their own languages (to the adopted language),
what might some of these be?

I'll post a summary when I hear your responses.


John Hammink 
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Message 2: Uto-Aztecan 'die'/'kill' verbs

Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 06:30:18 +0000
From: Ljuba Veselinova <>
Subject: Uto-Aztecan 'die'/'kill' verbs

Dear All,

I have a question about the phenomenon exemplified below. In a number
of Uto-Aztecan languages, especially in Southern Uto-Aztecan, the
verbal pair (suppletive stems) for a verb such as 'die' become
grammaticalized as the sole markers of plurality for stative
verbs. This is illustrated by Northern Tepehuan, spoken in the state
of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Northern Tepehuan (Uto-Aztecan, Southern, Sonoran, Tepiman) Bascom,
Burton. 1982. Northern Tepehuan. In Studies in Uto-Aztecan Grammar
v.3, p. 352

a.	múúkui		die.SG
	kóóyi		die.PL

b.	bíúgu-mu	hungry-SG
	bíúgu-koi	hungry-PL
c.	kooshi-mu	sleepy-SG
	kooshi-koi	sleepy-PL

I have so far not seen a verb such as 'die' to be generalized in this
way. I have checked the Uto-Aztecan cognate sets by Wick Miller and
the roots muuk and kooy seem to belong to the oldest Uto-Aztecan
vocabulary and can be reconstructed with a meaning such as 'die' or
'kill'. I would be very grateful for pointers to any references which
touch on this phenomenon, as the theories I have come up with seem a
bit farfetched to me. Besides if somebody already dealt with this I
wouldn't like to be re-invent the wheel.

As usual, I am really really grateful for all help. So far all the
information that people here have given me, has been invaluable.

My best wishes and thanks,

P.S. Please note that I am not asking about references to general
grammaticalization literature or verbal number because I am familiar
with those (or so I would like to think). Here come some very partial
lists of the literature I have perused: Heine, Claudi and Hünnemeyer,
1991, Hopper and Traugott 1993, Bybee, Perkins and Pagliuca 1994,
Heine and Kuteva 2001. Studies that deal with verbal number in various
ways (again, partial list): Durie 1986, Mithun 1988, Corbett 2000.

Language-Family: Uto-Aztecan; Code: UA
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